Archive for the ‘Korea Taepung International Investment Group (Daepung Investment Group)’ Category

DPRK-PRC summit and the outlook for bilateral economic cooperation

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 10-05-11-1

As North Korean leader Kim Jong Il spent four nights and five days in China, meeting with President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jaibao, and other top Chinese leaders, it appears that the issue of bilateral economic cooperation was high on the agenda, and was discussed in depth.

‘Strengthening economic and trade cooperation’ was one of the five proposals for bolstering PRC-DPRK relations made by Hu Jintao during the May 5 summit meeting with Kim Jong Il, giving some indication of just how much emphasis he and Kim were putting on economic cooperation during the latest visit.

Hu stated that strengthening cooperation between Beijing and Pyongyang would help both countries build their socialist systems, and would be in their shared interests as it would further development and help to bring peace, stability and prosperity to the region. According to China Daily, the five suggestions made by Hu Jintao are as follows:

1) To maintain high-level contacts. The leaders of the two countries should keep in touch by exchanging visits, as well as sending special envoys and messages.
2) To reinforce strategic coordination. The two sides should exchange views in a timely manner and regularly on major domestic and diplomatic issues, international and regional situation, as well as on governance experience.
3) To deepen economic and trade cooperation. The relevant departments of the two governments should discuss and explore ways of expanding economic and trade cooperation.
4) To increase personnel exchanges. The two sides should expand exchanges in the cultural, sports, and educational fields, and the contacts between the youth in particular to inherit the traditional friendship from generation to generation.
5) To strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs to better serve regional peace and stability.

In response, Kim Jong Il expressed his appreciation for Hu Jintao’s heartfelt invitation and warm greeting, and agreed with Hu’s five suggestions for developing bilateral cooperation. He highlighted the construction of a new bridge over the Yalu River as the latest sign of friendly cooperation between China and North Korea, and added that he “welcomes investment in North Korea by Chinese companies and boosting bilateral working-level cooperation based on the principle of mutual prosperity.”

Economic issues were at the heart of Kim Jong Il’s meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao, as well. Following their meeting, Wen said, “PRC-DPRK economic cooperation has great potential,” and that he actively supports bilateral efforts. He stated that he had high hopes for infrastructure projects and other cooperative efforts in the border region.

He went on to say, “China actively supports North Korea’s economic development and improvements in the lives of its people,” and that he would like to introduce to North Korea “Chinese-style know-how” by sharing China’s experiences with reform and economic construction.

In October of last year, Premier Wen introduced the “Chang-Ji-Tu Development Plan” during his visit to North Korea, pushing hard for the North’s cooperation in developing the border region. That, along with North Korea’s extension of the contract giving Chinese companies access to Rajin Port and the latest talks during Kim’s visit to China give a clearer picture of the future direction of PRC-DPRK cooperative economic efforts.

The Chang-Ji-Tu plan to develop the Jilin and Tumen River regions calls for the establishment of an economic ‘beltway’ by 2020, and the revival of the antiquated industrial areas of China’s three northeastern provinces. To be successful, the plan requires North Korean cooperation on securing access to the East Sea. In 2008, North Korea granted China usage rights to Pier 1 in Rajin Port, and then signed an agreement with China last November on the joint development of the port into an ‘international distribution hub’ providing a link for China to the global market. China’s Jilin Province has already earmarked 3 billion yuan (500 billion won) for Rajin Port’s development.

This, along with the construction of a new border-crossing bridge on the Tumen River and other similar projects, reflects the infrastructure development plans for the border region. Construction on the new 33 meter-long bridge began last October, and China is bearing the burden of a 1.7 billion yuan (290 billion won) price tag. In March, China also began restoration of the bridge over the Tumen River linking Hunchun and North Korea, and is expected to move forward quickly with a road construction project linking the bridge to Rajin Port.

Another cooperative effort is focused on the development of the Hwangeum Industrial Complex, a free trade zone on Hwanggeum Island, in the Tumen River. Ryongaksan General Trading Company, which currently holds the development rights to Hwanggeumpyeong and Uihwa islands, is actively seeking to attract foreign investment. Kim Jong Il’s latest trip to China is seen by some as an opportunity to push for increased Chinese investment and assistance in developing the region.

Workers’ Party of Korea Unification Strategy Department Director Kim Yang Gong, as chairman of the Korea Taepung International Investment Group, traveled with Kim Jong Il in China, and it appears to have been in order to more strongly call for investment in North Korea, and the development of Rajin Port, in particular.

Beijing permitting North Korean sight-seeing tours and joint development in its three northeastern provinces indicates its support for the increasing pace of bilateral economic cooperation with Pyongyang.


DPRK looking for Chinese investors in Taebong gold mine

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

According to the Daily NK:

The chairman of North Korea’s State Development Bank, Jeon Il Chun visited China on April 8, reportedly to try and bring Chinese investment to Daebong Mine, located near Hyesan, Yangkang Province.

Daebong Mine is one of North Korea’s major gold mines, managed under the auspices of the No. 39 Department of the Central Committee, a special department charged with raising funds for Kim Jong Il’s personal use. Jeon Il Chun is the person in charge of the No. 39 Department.

Attempts to sell shares in a gold mine directly controlled by the 39 Department, Kim Jong Il’s own private safe, to China seem to indirectly imply that Kim is suffering from a debilitating foreign currency supply crisis.

One Daily NK source in China who is well-acquainted with North Korean affairs reported that while Jeon was in China, he met with the management of three or four Chinese enterprises which already have investments in North Korea, and suggested investment conditions under which the North could transfer some of its mineral rights to them and receive capital investments in return.

The source said, “For now, as far as I know, executive managers of the No. 39 Department have been in contact with Chinese enterprises. Since the Workers’ Party is trying to sell shares in a gold mine, it seems the funding of the Party might be serious.”

“It is not clear whether or not this attempt was done on Kim Jong Il’s instructions, but attracting foreign investment in a gold mine is not a commonplace affair,” the source pointed out, adding that an investor has not yet been put in place.

What is the Daebong Mine for?

The Daebong Mine is a relatively large gold mine on the border of Woonheung and Gapsan in Yangkang Province. Until 2001, a Yangkang provincial foreign currency earning enterprise and the foreign currency earning department of the People’s Safety Agency jointly managed it. However, in May, 2002, it became a No. 39 Department affiliated enterprise.

The No. 39 Department has been raising private funds for the leader and Party operations under the Finance and Accounting Department of the Central Committee since the mid-1970s. According to defectors, it has the highest authority and the largest funds of all North Korea’s foreign currency earning enterprises. Especially, it has the ability to mobilize tremendous financial resources since it manages and controls supplies of gold and silver and rare non-ferrous metals.

A source from Yangkang Province explained, “According to Chongjin University of Mining and Metals and Kim Chaek University of Technology, the purity of the gold from the Daebong Mine is more than 76 percent, while production from Hoichang and Eunsan in South Pyongang Province is 63 percent and 61 percent respectively. More than 150kg of solid gold is produced annually, so this mine is known as the ‘loyalty mine’.”

“People say that the government earns four or five million dollars a year through this mine. Neither Yangkang Provincial Committee nor Hyesan Municipal Committee is involved with the business of the mine.”

The source added, “Since the No. 39 Department deals with the mine, only those discharged soldiers with good family backgrounds are dispatched there by the Central Committee. In October of last year, around 200 discharged soldiers with good family backgrounds came to the mine.”

Almost all the gold produced in the Daebong Mine is stored in Swiss and Austrian banks in gold bars.

A Chinese company had a contract with the DPRK’s Musan Mine which has been canceled for an unknown reason.

Click here to see what I believe is the mine’s location.

Read the full article here:
No. 39 Department Hawking Shares in Key Gold Mine
Daily NK
Lee Sung Jin


NDC takes over Kumgang tours

Monday, April 26th, 2010

According to the Donga Ilbo:

North Korea seeks to directly handle tours to the Mount Kumgang area after forcing South Korea out of the venture, said a source on North Korean affairs yesterday.

Korea Taepung International Investment Group, an agency under the North’s powerful National Defense Commission, has reportedly recruited Chinese companies to help operate the tour since January this year.

The source said, “Negotiations have significantly progressed in certain aspects,” adding, “I understand the North Korean leadership is considering directly operating the Mount Kumgang tour by getting Taepung or an agency under the National Defense Commission to hire multiple Chinese companies as agencies after forcing the Hyundai Group out of Mount Kumgang and Kaesong.”

Another informed source said, “Since Taepung is an agency that holds overall authority over attracting investment for the North’s national development, the group is believed to be advising and supervising efforts to resume the Mount Kumgang tour as well.”

On this, a South Korean government source said, “Even if the North severs ties with Hyundai Asan Corp., complicated legal action will continue over the North’s violation of the contract,” adding, “No Chinese company will seek to serve as a comprehensive business operator, so the new plan appears to be the most practical alternative for North Korea.”

If Taepung or an agency under the defense commission starts to operate the tour directly, the tour program will likely be operated under a completely different system.

The tour’s South Korean operator, Hyundai Asan, has wielded comprehensive and monopolistic rights to the venture, but North Korea appears to have taken over as the operator, with multiple foreign companies taking part.

An agency under the North’s defense commission or military will likely step forward to operate the tour in lieu of Pyongyang’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee under the ruling Workers’ Party or the Landmark General Development Bureau under the North Korean Cabinet.

And according to Yonhap:

Dozens of South Korean business officials will visit North Korea this week to comply with Pyongyang’s demand that they be present when the communist state freezes their assets at a joint mountain resort, officials said Monday, amid fears of further confiscation.

North Korea already confiscated five South Korean government-run facilities, including a family reunion center and a fire station, at its Mount Kumgang resort on the east coast last week.

The move reflected Pyongyang’s anger over Seoul’s refusal to resume cross-border tours that were halted in 2008 after the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean guard near the resort.

North Korea insists it has done everything to explain the shooting and guarantee safety for future South Korean visitors. South Korea doubts the genuineness of the gestures, demanding an on-site probe participated in by its officials and tangible safety measures.

The tours earned millions of U.S. dollars for the sanctions-hit North Korean regime before they were suspended. The North Korean demand for their resumption comes as the isolated state struggles to curb its economic troubles that deepened under U.N. sanctions imposed for its two nuclear tests, the latest in May last year.

An official at Hyundai Asan, the chief South Korean operator of the now-suspended tours, said 40 people from 31 companies, including his own, applied for permits to visit North Korea on Tuesday.

The North last week demanded “real estate proprietors and agents” attend the implementation of its plan to freeze their assets, which include hotels, a golf course and a variety of shops.

Officials at the Unification Ministry in Seoul said they plan to grant the permits.

“It is our basic stance that we respect the decisions of the companies,” spokesman Chun Hae-sung said.

Dozens of South Korean firms possess 360 billion won (US$320 million) worth of real estate in the mountain tourist zone.

During a meeting with Hyundai Asan officials stationed at the resort Monday morning, North Korea did not specify which companies should attend the freeze this week, a ministry official here said.

“The North Korean authorities remained ambiguous,” the official said, declining to be identified. “That will leave the door open for anyone wanting to visit North Korea this week.”

South Koreans fear Pyongyang may be taking steps to confiscate more South Korean assets. The North seized the Seoul government-run facilities 10 days after freezing them and expelling personnel.

South Korea has pledged retaliatory measures without being specific. A senior Unification Ministry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Monday the measures would be announced by early May.

South Korea also warned North Korea will be to blame for any further deterioration of relations between the divided states.

The Korea Herald speculates on how the South Korean government might retaliate:

The government is reportedly considering limiting the volume of agricultural and marine products from North Korea or tightening regulation of imports in other ways.

Certain North Korean items, such as sand, hard coal and mushrooms, already require the unification minister’s approval each time someone wants to bring them into the South. Seoul could expand the number of such items, making the import process more troublesome.

Currently, South Korean materials going into the joint industrial park in the North’s border town of Gaeseong and products rolled out from factories there account for more than 60 percent of inter-Korean trade.

Last month’s inter-Korean trade volume amounted to $202 million, 63 percent of which were goods going in and out of the Gaeseong park.

Since cross border tours to Mount Geumgang have been stalled, most of the remaining inter-Korean trade volume (35 percent) consists of agricultural and marine products.

Although the growth of inter-Korean trade has slowed under the Lee Myung-bak administration, South Korea is still the North’s second largest trading partner after China, according to the Unification Ministry.

Inter-Korean trade accounts for about 30 percent of the North’s trade with other countries, while China takes up about half.

The Seoul government could also further restrict nongovernmental aid to the North, which it has limited ever since Pyongyang launched a rocket in April last year.

It could also engage to the international community about the North’s “wrongful measures.”

Read the full stories here:
N. Korea to Directly Take Over Mt. Kumgang Tour
Donga Ilbo

S. Koreans to visit N. Korea as Pyongyang moves to freeze their assets
Sam Kim

Seoul may cut trade with N. Korea
Korea Herald
Kim So-hyun


DPRK seeks foreign capital through Rajin Port Development

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No.10-03-11-1

North Korea is actively looking into further development of Rajin Port by extending China’s lease on port facilities for another decade, and granting Russia 50-year rights to Rajin port facilities, as well. Li Longxi, a deputy of the National People’s Congress and head of Jilin Province’s Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, revealed to a Yonhap News reporter in Beijing on March 8, “The North gave Russia the right to use Pier 3 for 50 years, and is actively looking into extending the right to use Pier 1 granted to China in 2008 for another 10 years.”

Rajin Port has five piers, with Pier 3 being larger than Pier 1. The rights to Pier 1 were granted to the Changli Group, which specializes in the manufacture of environmental materials in Dalian. 10-year use and development rights had already been granted to this company. Deputy Li explained, “China gained rights to Pier 1 in 2008, and is now in negotiations with North Korea over extending those rights for 10 years.” Therefore, if this agreement is reached, China will have exclusive rights to the pier until 2028.

Li added, “Currently, China is in the process of constructing the facilities necessary to use the pier, and will begin to move goods through the port when construction is complete.” It appears China has invested tens of millions of Yuan into this project. Li also pointed out that by being able to use Rajin Port, Yanbian, currently lacking export avenues, will be able to transport Jilin Province’s abundant coal resources, not only through the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and other domestic cities, but to Japan and other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

On February 28, Sun Zhengcai, CCP Secretary of Jilin Province met with North Korean Kim Yong Il, head of the Korean Workers’ Party International Department, and introduced to him China’s ‘Greater Tumen Initiative’ development project. At the time, it was reported that Sun explained to Kim that Jilin provincial authorities had reached an agreement with North Korea for joint venture to construct a network of roads and basic infrastructure facilities. Jilin provincial and city officials, as well as Changchun city representatives, are involved in the project. China is focused on the Tumen river basin and Rajin Port because of their strategically valuable economic role in developing the country’s straggling northeast region.

Russia is also eyeing Rajin Port, because if the port is developed, it could serve as an outlet to export Sakhalin and Siberian crude oil and natural gas to neighboring countries. In July of last year, Russia and North Korea reached an agreement to repair the rail connection between Rajin and Hasan and to improve Rajin Port facilities, investing 1.4 billion Euros. Japanese newspaper Sankei Sinbun quoted a source within North Korea as reporting that Jang Song Thaek, Party administrative chief and brother-in-law of Kim Jong Il, had recently travelled to Rasun (Rajin + Sunbong) and declared that the area would be fully developed within the next 6 months.

The Korea Daepung International Group, serving as North Korea’s window to foreign capital, is said to have a plan to entice international investment in order to support the Tumen river development plan, and plans to develop Rasun Special City and Chongjin Port into key outlets for DPRK-PRC-Russian trade and commerce in Northeast Asia. However, the participation, and investment, of private-sector enterprises will likely depend on the success of the Rajin Port development.


DPRK State Development Bank holds first meeting

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

According to the AFP:

Sanctions-hit North Korea on Wednesday formally launched a development bank aimed at attracting foreign funds to revive its economy, state media reported.

Directors of the State Development Bank held their first meeting to elect officers and decide on a management structure and annual budget, the Korean Central News Agency said.

The bank, set up on the orders of leader Kim Jong-Il, will have “advanced banking rules and system for transactions with international monetary organisations and commercial banks,” the agency said.

It would invest in major projects and act as a commercial bank.

The bank is the latest move by the North to revive its ailing economy and rebuild crumbling infrastructure. In January it upgraded the status of Rason, a free trade zone near the border with China and Russia, to boost foreign trade.

Analysts have said the decision to found the development bank shows leader Kim is confident the six-party talks will eventually produce a settlement.

The board is made up of members of the National Defence Commission (NDC), the nation’s top ruling body; the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a state agency in charge of exchanges with South Korea; the finance ministry; the Korea Taepung International Investment Group and two independent directors.

NDC representative Jon Il-Chun was elected director-general and Pak Chol-Su, described as a Korean resident in China, as his deputy.

Previous State Development Bank posts here.

The KCNA story is here.

North Korean leadership Watch has more, including a picture of Jon Il-chun.

Read the full story here:
N.Korea launches bank to woo foreign capital


China to send $10 billion investment to DPRK

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

UPDATE: According to the Daily NK, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) claims $10 billion transfer is not likely:

The director of the NIS, Won Sei Hoon passed on the confirmation to a closed-door meeting of the Intelligence Committee of the National Assembly on Tuesday, after which members Chung Jin Suk of the Grand National Party and Park Young Sun of the Democratic Party revealed it to the press.

According to the two lawmakers, Won told the Committee, “Although North Korea is likely going around trying to invite 10 billion dollars of foreign investment, it seems that they have not attracted that much capital,” before predicting, “Unless the North solves the nuclear problem, it will be almost impossible to attract that much capital.”

He did add, however, “The Cabinet, Workers’ Party, military authorities and National Defense Commission have all seemingly been moving to try and obtain foreign capital. The appeasement attitude shown to the international community may be a part of their efforts to solve the problem of a lack of foreign currency.”

During the closed-doors meeting, Won also gave his opinion on a wide range of other issues pertaining to North Korea, including the inter-Korean dialogue and the truth of Kim Jong Il’s health status.

“It is not a deadlock situation because there is still dialogue,” Won said of the inter-Korean relationship. However, “Since North Korea’s attitude has not changed yet; it will take more time to resume the tours of Mt. Geumgang and Kaesong.”

Commenting on Kim Jong Il’s probable health condition, Won revealed that Kim has been making an effort to appear healthy, for example by removing age spots on his face, but, “While he has been visiting industrial sites, he has expressed nervousness about current issues and economic problems, and has a sharpened temper. His tendency of relying on old acquaintances and family members has been increasing.”

However, “I believe there is zero possibility of a coup. For the time being, it seems that the North Korean leadership can control its domestic society.”

ORIGINAL POST: According to Yonhap:

During his four-day visit to Pyongyang, the source said [Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of the Communist Party of China] held in-depth discussions about investments by Chinese companies via Daepung Group, an investment company that works to attract overseas capital to the communist state.

Total investments are expected to exceed the $10 billion mark, with a signing ceremony planned by North Korea’s State Development Bank in mid-March that is to be attended by foreign investors from involved nations, the source said.

“Over 60 percent of total investments, which will be announced next month, will come from China,” the source added, suggesting the Chinese government’s close involvement in building railways, ports and houses in North Korea.

China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and an important provider of food and fuel. North Korea remains isolated from most of the world and has received virtually no foreign investment. The North’s GDP was estimated at around $26.2 billion in 2008 compared with $1.3 trillion for the South, according to the U.S. State Department.

Read more about the Korea Taepung International Investment Group and the DPRK State Development Bank here.

Read the full story below:
N. Korea draws US$10 billion in foreign investments: source


Head of Office 39 replaced

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

According to the Guardian:

It is the nerve centre of North Korea’s money-making operations, the department dedicated to raising hard currency for Kim Jong-il while his country teeters on the brink of collapse.

Room 39 is responsible for some legal ventures, such as the country’s limited exports of ginseng and other items. But according to defectors, most of its energy goes into drug-trafficking, sales of weapons and missile technology, and the production of counterfeit US dollar bills.

Today, it was reported the department’s head – Kim Jong-il’s personal finance manager – has been sacked, possibly in response to international action against the alleged illegal moneymaking. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim Dong-un was dismissed because he had been blacklisted by so many foreign governments, including the EU in December, leaving him unable to travel on behalf of Room 39’s legal companies. He has been replaced by his deputy, Jon Il-chun, Yonhap said, citing an unidentified source.

Housed in an unremarkable government compound in Pyongyang, Room 39 oversees 120 companies and mines, accounting for a quarter of all North Korean trade and employing 50,000 people, according to Lim Soo-ho, a research fellow at the Samsung Economic Research Institute. He said Kim’s dismissal may be part of attempts to get around international sanctions.

While its inner workings remain a mystery to all but its occupants and the family they serve, Room 39’s role in enabling the regime to survive even in times of widespread famine and international pressure, has come under greater scrutiny since the imposition last year of tough UN sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Some of the money generated by Room 39 is used to buy the loyalty of senior party officials, a role that may take on greater prominence as Kim Jong-il, who suffered a stroke in 2008, prepares to hand over power to his third son, Kim Jong-un. Analysts have estimated that illegal activities account for up to 40% of all North Korean trade and an even higher share of total cash earnings.

Additional information: 

1. More on the EU travel ban is here.

2. Office 39 is reportedly located here.  Kim Jong Il’s office is reportedly nearby here.

3. This week the KWP’s finance director, Pak Nam-gi, was also let go.

4. Mike Madden notes the new director’s  appearance with KJI at an “On the Spot Guidance” visit this week.  Mike also points to a possible appearance the Korea Taepung International Investment Group meeting.


First meeting of Korea Taepung International Investment Group held

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

UPDATE: According to the Choson Ilbo:

North Korea recently announced it wants to create a bank to finance national development projects and appointed a Korean-Chinese businessman named Pak Chol-su to head what is to be called the [North] Korea Taepung International Investment Group, which is to attract foreign capital for the bank. The seven-member board of directors at the investment company include usual suspects like Kim Yang-gon, the director of the Workers’ Party’s United Front Department, Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law, and other key players.

But analysts say Pak, a foreigner, is the only one with the ability to attract overseas capital, leading to a sense among South Korean intelligence analysts that Pak was brought in to save what he can of the North Korean economy. It is not the first time. In 2002, the hermit country appointed Chinese-Dutch entrepreneur Yang Bin governor of the Sinuiju Special Administrative Region, though the plan belly-flopped when the Chinese arrested Yang on corruption charges.

According to North Korean sources, Pak was born in 1959, graduated from Yanbian University and has a master’s degree in business and commerce from another university in China. He later developed close ties with high-ranking North Korean officials selling Chinese gasoline in the North. “Since Chinese gasoline is used in cars, it is sold directly to North Korean military officers or key government agencies” since top officials are practically the only ones likely to have one, said one North Korean source. “Pak appears to have gained the confidence of high-ranking officials in the process.”

Pak is believed to have been responsible for setting up a secret meeting between Kim Yang-gon and South Korean Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee in Singapore last October. “Pak used his connections to help North Korea when it was looking for a contact point with the South Korean government after August last year, and it appears this position is his reward,” said Cho Bong-Hyun, a North Korea analyst with the Industrial Bank of Korea. There is speculation that Pak may be tasked with luring South Korean capital for investment in North Korea.

The Taepung International Investment Group was established in China and Hong Kong in September 2006 to lure foreign investment to North Korea. In 2007, Taepung signed an agreement with China’s Tangshan Iron and Steel to build a production plant in North Korea and was involved in getting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in Pyongyang in February 2008. The North announced last Wednesday that both Taepung and the bank would be headquartered in Pyongyang.

It remains to be seen whether Pak will generate the results the regime hopes for. Lee Jo-won, a professor of North Korean studies at Chung-Ang University, said, “Unlike the appointment of Yang Bin, there seems to have been a certain level of consent in terms of the role Pak will play. But without progress in the North Korean nuclear crisis, it’ll be virtually impossible for him to attract foreign investment.” One senior South Korean government official said, “Last year, North Korea apparently held an investment blitz in the EU and was disappointed to learn that continued economic sanctions due to its nuclear weapons program in effect prevent other countries from making any investment there.”

UPDATE: DPRK establishes national development bank in order to attract foreign capital
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No.10-01-22-1

On January 20, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the North’s most powerful government organization, the National Defense Commission, ordered the establishment of a ‘National Development Bank’ to “carry out investment affairs for projects important to national policy and to conduct business with international commercial banks and international financial institutions.”

Furthermore, the committee decided to establish the main branch of the ‘Korea Daepung International Investment Group’ in Pyongyang, which will operate as an economic consortium attracting foreign monies and ensuring the flow of capital for the National Development Bank. The KCNA reported that an announcement was made at the Pyongyang Yanggakdo International Hotel explaining that “the first meeting of the Korea Daepung International Investment Group board of directors had opened, and that at the meeting, the National Defense Commission’s decision regarding the establishment of the National Development Bank and the mediation committee of the Korea Daepung International Investment Group had been created.”

The news agency went on to explain that the National Development Bank would conduct business with international financial institutions and commercial banks according to “modern financial standards and systems,” ensuring necessary investments in support of projects central to the promotion of national policy. The KCNA also reported that at the meeting, an order from Kim Jong Il was passed down with the title “On Ensuring the Operations of the Korean Daepung International Financial Group.”

Kim Yang-gun (a member of the National Defense Commission and director of the Unification Strategy Department) was selected as Chairman of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, while Chinese-Korean Bak Cheol-su was chosen as president and chairman of the board. The 7-member board of directors is reportedly made up of representatives from the National Defense Commission, the Cabinet, the Ministry of Public Finance, the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, the Korea Daepung International Investment Group, and other related offices.

The board of directors meeting also discussed and voted on bylaws, a 2010 action plan and an annual budget for the Korea Daepung International Investment Group as well as activities for a preparatory committee for the establishment of the National Development Bank. It was also decided to form a secretariat for the board of directors.

In September 2006 the Daepung International Investment Group was established in Hong Kong by North Korean authorities in order to serve as a window for foreign investment, and the group was part of the effort in October 2007 to entice investment from the Chinese Tangshan Iron and Steel Group. It also played a role in bringing the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to Pyongyang in February 2008.

This latest measure appears to indicate that the North Korean leadership is taking a more aggressive drive to entice foreign capital, but it is not yet clear if the move will have any significant impact. It stands out that as sanctions enforced against the North by the international community make it difficult for Pyongyang to attract foreign investment, the North is stressing its intention to uphold “modern standards” for those willing to invest.

The Daepung Group rose to prominence in 2007 as a new window for attracting foreign investment into the North when it reached agreements with China’s Dangshan Steel and Iron Group, the country’s 3rd largest steel company, and Datang Power to form a joint venture to build a 1.5 million-ton processing plant and a 600,000 kW coal-burning power plant in the Kimchaek Industrial District.


Pyongyang, January 20 (KCNA) — The first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Korea Taepung International Investment Group took place at Yanggakdo International Hotel on Wednesday.

It was attended by directors of the board of the group and officials concerned as observers.

Conveyed there were an order of the chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission “On ensuring the activities of the Korea Taepung International Investment Group” and decisions of the DPRK NDC “On establishing the State Development Bank” and “On setting up the Coordinating Committee of the Korea Taepung International Investment Group”.

At the meeting Kim Yang Gon, chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, was elected director-general of the board of the group and Pak Chol Su, a Korean resident in China, permanent deputy director-general and president of the group.

The board of directors is made up of seven persons including representatives of the National Defence Commission, the Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and an office concerned of the DPRK, the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee and the Korea Taepung International Investment Group.

The meeting decided to set up a secretariat of the board of directors and named its members.

It deliberated and decided on the draft rules of the Korea Taepung International Investment Group, its action program and financial budget bill for 2010, a resolution on starting the operation of a preparatory committee for establishment of the State Development Bank and other agenda items related to the work of the group.

Kim Yang Gon made a keynote report and Pak Chol Su an address on the work of the group at the meeting.

The group, an external economic cooperation body, will play the role of an economic complex ensuring the induction of investment and finances for the State Development Bank, and it will be headquartered in Pyongyang.

The State Development Bank is to provide investment on major projects to be carried out according to the state policy after being equipped with advanced banking rules and system needed for transactions with international monetary organizations and commercial banks.

The Choson Ilbo has more:

North Korea will establish a state development bank which will deal with international financial organizations and commercial banks and invest according to state policies, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday. The decision was made by the powerful National Defense Commission, which is headed by leader Kim Jong-il.

It will also set up an international cooperation agency called the Joson Daepung International Investment Group to take charge of attracting investment for the bank, KCNA said.

KCNA claimed the bank has “modern financial rules.” Kim Yang-gon, the director of the Workers’ Party’s United Front Department, has been named chairman of the Joson Daepung Investment Group, and Pak Chol-su vice chairman.

A North Korean source said Pak is a Korean-Chinese businessman who maintains relations with South Korean officials and businessmen. He apparently once arranged a secret inter-Korean meeting.

Pak is also believed to have been involved in a secret meeting held between Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee and Kim Yang-gon in Singapore last October.

Rumor has it that Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law and the director of the Administrative Department of the Workers’ Party, is also on the board of directors.

North Korea will establish a state development bank which will deal with international financial organizations and commercial banks and invest according to state policies, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday. The decision was made by the powerful National Defense Commission, which is headed by leader Kim Jong-il.

It will also set up an international cooperation agency called the Joson Daepung International Investment Group to take charge of attracting investment for the bank, KCNA said.

KCNA claimed the bank has “modern financial rules.” Kim Yang-gon, the director of the Workers’ Party’s United Front Department, has been named chairman of the Joson Daepung Investment Group, and Pak Chol-su vice chairman.

A North Korean source said Pak is a Korean-Chinese businessman who maintains relations with South Korean officials and businessmen. He apparently once arranged a secret inter-Korean meeting.

Pak is also believed to have been involved in a secret meeting held between Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee and Kim Yang-gon in Singapore last October.

Rumor has it that Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law and the director of the Administrative Department of the Workers’ Party, is also on the board of directors.

(From a reader):  The Korea Taepung International Investment Group (조선태풍국제투자그룹) will attract and coordinate investment – ostensibly from China as a founding member is a Korean Chinese. The group’s charter came from Kim Jong-il , Chairman of the NDC, and its board members include Kim Yang-gon, chairman of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (who was elected chairman of the board), Pak Ch’ol-su, a Korean-Chinese (elected standing vice chairman of the board and president), and seven persons representing the NDC, Cabinet, Ministry of Finance, relevant ministries, Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, and the Choson Taep’ung International Investment Group. This seems to be a major salvo in North Korea’s current campaign to ease international tensions, curry desperately needed investment, and ultimately get the country back on its centralized economy track.

According to NK Leadership Watch: In the video footage of the meeting (1/20/2010 on Kim Chang-sun can bee seen.  He is on Kim Jong il’s secretariat.

The Pyongyang Times has more here.


North Korea, China Will Start $10 Billion Fund, Yonhap Reports

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Bomi Lim

North Korea’s Daepung Investment Group will set up a $10 billion fund with China Development Bank to help Chinese firms operating in North Korea, Yonhap News reported, citing the company’s vice president.

The fund will be used to help Chinese companies build roads, railways and ports in North Korea, Daepung Vice President Bae Kyeong Hwan was quoted as saying. Bae didn’t say how much each country will contribute the fund.

Daepung also plans to set up a bank to attract investment from overseas, the report said.

China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner and an important provider of food and fuel. North Korea is isolated from most of the rest of the world and has received virtually no foreign investment.